Former Essex County Parks Department employees plead guilty to theft

NEWARK – Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray announced that two former Essex County Parks Department employees pleaded guilty today to one count of theft before the Honorable Siobhan Teare, Judge of the Superior Court.

Rocca Gonnella, 47, of Toms River and Albert Maldonado, 42, of Elizabeth both entered guilty pleas. The men each admitted today to illegally using the access codes that allow them to gas up county vehicles and equipment to do their jobs to instead fill up their personal vehicles numerous times between Feb. 10, 2012 and May 18, 2012.

The theft was uncovered in a joint investigation involving the Essex County Inspector General’s Office, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, each man will be sentenced to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison when they are sentenced on April 28. They will also pay $2,000 each in restitution to the county, forfeit their jobs and forfeit all future public employment in the state of New Jersey.

The case was handled by Assistant Prosecutor Adam Wells.